by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Boca Raton, Fla.
March 15, 2006
FARE IS FAIR IN THE AIR, AND IT'S TIME TO FIGHT BACK
BOCA RATON, Fla., Mar. 14, 2006 -- Now that Northwest Airlines is going to charge as much as $15 extra to plant your butt in an aisle or exit airline seat, it's time for the flying public to take the gloves off and fight back.
Sure, there have been months on end when I haven't flown. But this recent airline fare inflation via paying for snacks, paying for seat location, and the expected paying for carry-on bags, catches me in Flying Machine Mode. In the last 40 days I have been a human flying machine.
I have flown from West Palm Beach to Newark; Newark to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Rome; Rome to Paris: Paris to Miami; home for 48 hours then Fort Lauderdale to Houston; Houston to Albuquerque; Albuquerque to Houston, and Houston to West Palm Beach. In 12 days I will fly to Panama.
I will have flown Continental, KLM, Alitalia, Air France, and Copa Air. In the past year I have also flown American, Southwest, Delta, America West, AlaskaAir and Frontier.
In our hands and in our credit cards is the power to fight back and demand fair play from the airlines. I think there are a number of ways in which picky consumers can earn back some of the money squandered in the ever-expanding nickel-and-diming of the traveling public.
Shortly after American Airlines announced it would no longer provide pillows in coach, I told my disgruntled daughter to take an inflatable pillow on the trip, and I explained why. "How cheap can they get?" she asked. Ever the capitalist apologist I explained, "Listen they probably figure they can save millions of dollars each year by not cleaning the pillow cases on those pillows." My daughter rolled her eyes in her best Alicia Silverstone impersonation and quipped, "oh yeah, yeah, like they ever, ever cleaned anything on those disgusting pillows with the paper covers!"
Here's our battle plan:
Captive magazines - The best in-flight magazine in the pouch in front of your cramped knees is a glorified PR piece for the airline. Fine and dandy. Everyone who picks up and opens the cover of the airline house organ, complete with wrinkled route map, must receive $5 as a promotional fee. If a promotional fee was not due us they would have placed the SI Swimsuit Edition, or Maxim in the pouch.
"No ice" premium - If we accept free soft drinks with no ice the flight attendants reduce the motions of their arms, serve more people faster, are more efficient, and are less likely to accidentally fling ice cubes on the lady in seat 13H. They must hand us one dollar for every plastic glass of water, or orange juice that we want with no ice.
Skinny bonus - Adult women who wear size 5 or less and adult men with less than 3 per cent body fat or a gross weight of 170 pounds or less, receive a 15 per cent discount on all tickets as their boarding pass is swiped. If airlines demand extra seats purchased or weight surcharges for obese passengers, skinny passengers will one day allow airlines to wedge four, five, or maybe six people into three regular seats, thus making more money.
"Hold it In" Fun Bucks - Usually 12 minutes after meals, snacks, or drinks are served, half of the plane heads for the three mini bathrooms. Passengers bump into each other, block the aisles, and hassle and hit on young flight attendants or in the case of U.S. Air, discuss Medicare Part D with their flight attendants. On the other hand, passengers with normal bladder and sphincter training who never rush to the airborne sarcophagus to relieve themselves, use no flushing water, towels, perfumed soap, or toilet tissue. When the bathroom rush begins the pilot must deploy all the overhead oxygen masks. A "Hold it in Fun Buck" is taped to each mask, limit one per passenger, and those still seated get a dollar bonus for having been potty trained.
Anti-Hub Fare Supplement - Any passenger forced to fly Delta through Atlanta, Continental through Houston, American through Dallas-Fort Worth, etc. will be given an additional five per cent ticket discount. This will offset the hours of listening to airline employees kissing and hugging their friends, catching up on the latest corporate hub gossip, and grousing about lost "bids," lower benefits, salary give backs, and broken love affairs. Northwest passengers flying through either Detroit or Minneapolis will receive 10 per cent. The double supplement is to make up for the fact that they must suffer through all of the things above, plus snow and "icing" delays.
And, finally... .
The CEO Rebate - Any mandatory safety warning either audio- and/or video-recorded in the voice of or by the likeliness of the airline CEO will result in a $10 rebate as the passenger deplanes. Passengers may file written claims for additional pain and suffering for CEO's use of any of the following terms: "most modern fleet in the air", "spacious comfort," "exciting new horizons", "professionally trained crew", or "we know you have many choices", if uttered by the head of an airline who never ever in his adult life has sat further back than row four.